It was a happy moment for the deaf community of Gombe State when management of the Federal Teaching Hospital, FTH, Gombe announced appointment of two sign language interpreters to bring an end to the communication gap between Deaf patients and health workers in the hospital.
The move was disclosed to officials of Gombe State Association of the Deaf GOMSAD, by Chief Medical Director of the Hospital, Gombe, Dr. Mohammed Yusuf Abdullahi when the GOMSAD officials, led by Chairman of the Association, Hon. Mr. Blessed Charles paid him a courtesy visit in his office on Monday, last week.
Earlier, the chairman of GOMSAD, Mr. Charles had pleaded with hospital management to identify with the myriads of health-related challenges faced by the Deaf community in Gombe State.
Mr Charles had said: “this visit is in partial fulfilment of promises in my campaign manifestos to engage in familiarization visits to various Ministries, Department and Agencies ( MDAs) in order to create awareness on the many problems and challenges faced by members of the Deaf community in Gombe State.
“More than any other, our community is at the receiving end of a host of healthcare challenges”
He added, “these challenges stem from the general information exclusion caused by language barriers, accessibility challenges, employment discrimination, among others”
According to Charles, “people in wider society, especially in the health centres, think it is too difficult to communicate with the Deaf”. He went on to debunk such views as ‘not true’, noting that there are solutions”.
He stressed the urgent need for the FTH management to employ sign language interpreters to bridge the communication gap between Deaf patients and the hospital. According to Mr Charles, this will save lives, while resolving other health-related challenges and barriers facing the Deaf.
Mr. Charles also appealed the hospital hierarchy to endeavor to domesticate and implement the Federal Government’s 5% employment slot reserved for PWDs in the FTH as enshrined in the Discrimination (prohibition) Against Persons with Disabilities Act, 2008.
He further noted that it is high time the FTH, being a federal institution, consider appointing Disability Desk officers to assist the hospital in formulating and processing policies affecting PWDs.
Speaking as women representative during the meeting, the GOMSAD women leader, Mrs Alheri Nuhu narrated bitter ordeals experienced by Deaf women attending the hospital everyday.
She said, “Nobody suffers more than the Deaf woman, they have been left unattended to, even when they are in labour situation.”
“ When you are pregnant, you need special attention, it is sad that this attention is not given to us by health workers. In fact most of health workers don’t want to attend to us”, she lamented.
In response to the issue put forward for discussion, the Chief Medical Director appreciated the leadership of GOMSAD for calling on his office in this holy month of Ramadan.
His words: “Today is a special day for me. I am deeply excited by your visit to our health center
“I assure that the hospital management will stand out within our capacity to provide lasting solutions to the issues raised by your chairman”
“Before you came, we already started thinking on how to solve your issues”
“I wish to bring to your notice that the hospital has, in line with the 5℅ allocation for PWDs, recently employed 10 PWDs to its workforce”. Appointment letters for the employees are ready and will be released to them In due course”
Dr. Abdullahi requested for names of two sign language interpreters to be issued appointment letters. They are Aishatu Salisu and Morgan Abner. Both, present at the meeting, were recommended by GOMSAD chairman for the two sign language interpreting job in the FTH.